What makes you happy?

In 2011, filmmaker, Roko Belic did a documentary, HAPPY. He went around to 14 different countries, from Louisiana to India in search of what people wanted in life. And what did they want? Happiness. After watching this documentary, it really got me thinking about what really makes me happy, what satisfies me. Money? My job? My family? Friends? New clothes? Having a roof over my head? Waking up in the morning? My phone? Having wifi? And the list goes on. To be honest, all of these things give me joy, and fills me with thankfulness. But if someone were to ask me what I wanted in life, I’d probably say the same thing; to be happy. I wake up every morning, thankful that I have another day to live, regardless of my circumstances. I’ve realized that everyone has something another person doesn’t. Not everyone has a job, a family, some people don’t even have a roof over their head. But those people, regardless of what they have or don’t have, they are happy.

• My favorite story in this documentary was the Rickshaw driver, Manoj Singh, who lived in the Kolkata slums of India. His occupation was driving a rickshaw around town, and bringing people to their destinations. He did that for about 12 hours a day. His job wasn’t always pleasant either, and he got paid very little for what he did. Sometimes people would get really drunk and abuse him, but he never argued. He would just go on with his day. Manoj mentioned that in the summer, his feet would hurt because of the heat. If it rained, it didn’t matter that his clothes were soaked because he knew that working all day and walking around would help dry his clothing. Him and his family lived in a hut made out of bamboo and plastic bags, with a tarp hovering the exterior. They had no carpets and their floors were the same as the ground; dirt, cement and grass. They had one window for air flow, and sometimes if it rained, the rain would come into their home.

“Except for this, we live well” – Manoj Singh

Rickshaw Driver, Manoj Singh

 “Sometimes we only eat rice with salt, but we are still happy” – Manoj Singh

He also mentioned that him and his family are really good friends with their neighbors. They all get along quite well and they enjoy each others company. Despite their living situations, and the fact that he can barely provide food for his family, he is always filled with joy whenever he spends time with his neighors. He always gets filled with joy when he sees his son, sitting, waiting at the tea shop for his return, and then shouts “BABA”, which means father in many languages. During the interview, he quoted, 

“I feel like I am not poor, but I am the richest person”

. It doesn’t matter how much you have, but how much you make of it. And that’s what Manoj did. Even though he had so little, he made the best of what he had, and he lived so humbly too. I live on the island of Kauai, and Kauai is nothing like India. People consider Kauai, or anywhere in Hawaii as paradise. Living here, I don’t have to worry about rain coming into my house when it pours, or being abused by drunk people for no reason. I don’t have to work 12 hours a day, just to “get by”, or barely get by, and I don’t have to worry about not having enough money to support myself. This documentary reminded me to humble and to not take things for granted because HEY, things could be worse. I complain about the littlest things sometimes, like when the wifi doesn’t work, when someone cuts me off on the road, when I’m low on food, or when I don’t work enough hours and my paycheck is small, when my car breaks down, when my phone drops and cracks, when the line at the store is long, and so forth. I’m not saying I’m not happy, I’m just saying that it’s mind boggling how much we have and how unhappy/unsatisfied we can get because of materialistic things. In other places, they don’t even have half the stuff that we have. Some places don’t even have clean water. With all of the studying, interviewing, and research that was done, they found that Manoj Singh was just as happy as an average American. (I’m considered an average American) And that’s huge, considering he had so little. 

“The formula for happiness isn’t the same for everyone, but the good news is that the things we love to do are the building blocks of a happy life: play, having new experiences, friends and family, doing things that are meaningful, appreciating what we have – these are the things that make us happy and they’re free. With happiness, the more you have, the more everyone has.”

• So, be thankful for what you have, regardless of your circumstances and be mindful about others because some of the things you have, another person is or might be praying for.


• If you have the chance to watch this documentary, please do. I highly recommend it. It’s on Netflix. It’s super encouraging, humbling and inspiring. You won’t regret it! 🙂

Xoxo, Savvy ❤


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